- March 22, 2016
Two years ago Peter Cuderman left his social media and public relations startup, Fort Myers-based PR Zebra, to become a U.S. Marine.
Now in the Reserves, Cuderman targets another line of community service: the Florida Legislature. Cuderman, also an executive with Naples-based Bruno Total Home Performance, is one of three Republicans in what could be tight race for Florida House District 79. Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, who is term-limited and now running for Florida Agriculture Commissioner, had held the seat.
Cuderman, profiled in the Business Observer in January 2016 for his unusual career shift to the Marines, says at 27 years old he brings youthful exuberance to the race. He says he will also commit to looking out for the region, which includes Lehigh Acres and North Fort Myers — areas he considers forgotten among other parts of Southwest Florida.
“This shouldn’t be a stepping-stone seat,” Cuderman tells Coffee Talk. “It should go to someone who really supports this region.”
Competition for the seat includes Republican Spencer Roach, a retired Coast Guard JAG officer. Roach is currently an aide for U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Naples. Roach didn't return a phone call seeking comment on the race. In addition to Roach, FloridaPolitics.com reports Democrat Mark Lipton and non-party affiliated candidate William Fredrick Caleb Earp are also running for the seat. (Chauncey Solinger, an area auto sales and real estate entrepreneur and previous Republican candidate for office, had initially declared his candidacy for the seat. But he pulled out of the race March 29, and backed Cuderman.)
While Cuderman says economic development for the district will be a priority, his larger goal is area recognition. “It’s so easy to get caught up in elections and not remember the people who got you there,” says Cuderman. “District 79 needs a voice that can be loud and outspoken.”
(This story was updated to reflect Solinger's decision to drop out of the race.)